Apple's iPad 2: Incremental Money Grab or Must Have Upgrade?

For every raving Apple fan who will be camping outside their local Apple Store, there's a naysayer dissing Steve Jobs and the fruit collective, and the release of the iPad 2 is bringing no different behavior.

For the record, the iPad, for me, has become my favorite gadget of all time up to this point--no doubt, no hesitation. I use it daily and it has all but replaced my laptop for in-home media consumption, Internet browsing, movie watching, reading, and RSS reading. It's elegant, efficient, and simple. I have dozens of apps and over a hundred games, many of which I play daily or weekly. So, you'd think I'd be jumping like a hungry dog on a leash for an iPad 2... but I'm not. 

What's Different About the iPad 2?

Well, the iPad 2 is certainly an upgrade--but more of a refresh than a completely new product.

  • It's thinner and lighter. Yes, like most consumer electronics products in their Gen II phase, the iPad 2 is thinner and lighter, as well as supposedly being more comfortable to hold. The 33% thinner will be noticeable, but I'd be hard pressed to believe that most consumers care about a 15% weight difference.
  • Two cameras. We knew this was coming, but is it really that big of a deal? Sure, you get FaceTime and Skype video chat (I would assume) but you could use your PC or iPhone for that. And the whole big spin on using iMovie on an iPad? Do you really think people are going to film videos with the iPad? I mean, it's kinda big for that.
  • Smart Cover. Yes, the Smart Cover is pretty sweet. I love the design and concept, but it doesn't cover the back of the iPad? Seriously?

The One "Big" Difference

That's not all that's different--I left one thing out. The iPad 2 will be sporting the brand new "A5" chip from Apple--a dual core chipset which promises better multitasking, faster operation, and up to 9 times the graphics/gaming performance.

For some reason, this is downplayed alongside the stupid cameras and neat-o Smart Cover, but I think it's the biggest difference.

See, what makes the iPad awesome is not only its design and UI, but also the apps available with it. It's the 3rd party developers that really make the iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch series of devices worth owning.

So, I can see apps coming out in no time at all that are "optimized for iPad 2," especially games--potentially leaving original iPad owners in the dust with their 3G and 3GS brethren.

Still Not Upgrading... Yet

I plan on sticking to my guns this time, at least for as long as possible. This really just seems like much more of an incremental upgrade than a truly new product. The iPhone 4 felt like a whole new device, especially due to the inclusion of the Retina Display. This seems like more of the same, just better--which isn't bad, but not worth it either.

My conclusion at this point, Apple lovers, is to stay put and wait until the iPad 3 comes out--complete with higher resolution display. You might have fewer regrets.


Remember, the iPad2 looks *very* different than the original iPad if you are a consumer who does not currently have a tablet, and is considering buying one. Firstly, it potentially has the differentiators to make it an easy decision for someone who is considering a Xoom, or some other type of tablet. Secondly, it gives Apple a great reason to lower the price of the existing product line, so that it is even more accessible.

I'm sure Apple cares about existing iPad owners who want to upgrade to an iPad2, but a product like this is more likely to appeal to those who might have considered something else...


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